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Premier League Weekend Spotlight

Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp face off this weekend via @ManCity

Premier League Weekend Spotlight

Manchester City’s Attack

City sit 2nd in the table on 7 points, but their performances have fallen short of expectations thus far.  More was expected of Pep Guardiola’s team with the vast array of attacking talent at his disposal.  However, the sum has been far less than the parts, with just 5 goals coming in their opening 3 matches.

They won’t have the chance to slowly find their footing after returning from the international break as they host Liverpool on Saturday.  City struggled against Liverpool last year in their 2 matches, scoring only 1 goal in a home draw and none in a loss at Anfield.  Liverpool have also proven to be potent, already bagging 8 goals in their first 3 matches.

If Guardiola’s side are to emerge victorious they will need to rediscover their fluency in attack.

Liverpool’s Defense

They’ve conceded just once in 2 matches after giving up 3 to Watford in their opening match.  Still, they look far from solid at the back and are vulnerable on the counter and on set pieces.  If they can keep things relatively tight with everything City will throw at them they have a great chance at getting a result.  It would also further provide more confidence in their chances to push for the league and achieve Champions League qualification again.

Arsenal

Arsenal followed up a disastrous loss to Liverpool prior to the international break with an even more appalling end to the transfer window.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was sold to Liverpool for £40 million days after he started against them.  An agreement was reached to sell Alexis Sanchez to Manchester City on deadline day after publicly stating he wouldn’t be allowed to leave.  They then reneged after a desperate deadline day £92 million bid for Monaco’s Thomas Lemar didn’t pan out.  This was either due to their inability to agree contract terms with him or his lack of interest in joining, depending on which reports you choose to believe.

Not Wenger’s finest hour as manager of Arsenal.

Lucky for the Gunners they’ll be hosting pointless Bournemouth at the Emirates this weekend.  Even with turmoil reportedly rife within the squad, this is the perfect fixture to ease the tension surrounding the club.  Fail to claim victory and the doom and gloom will reach new lows.

Arsene Wenger

A 4-0 thumping away to Liverpool was bad, but the manner of the defeat was worse, with his players’ effort sorely lacking.  Rumors abounded after the match of many players disillusionment with Wenger’s handling of the squad.

Giving starting berths to Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sanchez, with both looking exit, was puzzling.  Meanwhile Alexandre Lacazette, the club’s record summer signing, was left on the bench to make an appearance as a sub.  Left back Sead Kolasinac was also left out while Hector Bellerin, a natural right back, slotted into his position.  

Bournemouth at home is the exact type of fixture Wenger would want on the docket after a rough few weeks.  Just don’t overcomplicate things and Arsenal should grab the 3 points.  Will he?

Tottenham

Arsenal’s tumultuous start has overshadowed a similarly slow start to their North London rivals’ campaign.  Tottenham sit on just 4 points after their first 3 matches.  Spurs’ Wembley hoodoo was a concern coming into the season and has carried over in a loss to an undermanned Chelsea side and a more recent dispiriting draw to Burnley.  They’ve also struggled to find the back of the net with only 4 goals scored, 1 of which was an own goal.  

The good news is they travel away for this weekend’s match.  The bad news is they’ll be visiting Goodison Park to face a stingy Everton side.  No easy task.

Harry Kane

Kane’s been the top scorer in the Premier League for 2 conseuctive seasons.  In both seasons he failed to score in August.

This year he also failed to get on the score sheet in the first month of the season.  It’s September now.  Time to get going.

Serge Aurier

Tottenham supporters were relieved when Aurier’s arrival on deadline day from PSG was announced.   Following Kyle Walker’s departure to Manchester City, Spurs have struggled with width in attack early on.  

Kieran Trippier has performed adequately in the right wingback spot, but his mental error led to Burnley’s extra time equalizer.  He doesn’t provide the same level of athleticism, pace and work rate as Walker.  Aurier, though a true asshole off the pitch, is a stronger option with previous experience at a top European club.

Whether or not Mauricio Pochettino slots the deadline day arrival straight into the side is of significant pre-match interest.  

Slaven Bilic

Zero points from the opening 3 matches have put Bilic’s future at West Ham in jeopardy.  Of course he faced similar scrutiny last season before guiding them to a comfortable mid-table finish.  With the investment made into the squad this summer, including the addition of a quality striker in Chicharito, such fears were supposed to be a thing of the past. However, a truly horrendous start have again put him squarely on the hot seat.

To be fair West Ham only now play their first home match of the season.  They host newly promoted Huddersfield who have got off to a roaring start in the Premier League.  The expectations of the club’s supporters will be to get a positive result, notch a performance better than embarrassing and register their first points of the season..  

The pressure continues to mount………

Frank de Boer

The Crystal Palace manager is already under fire after just 3 matches into his first Premier League season.  Reports are that de Boer has this next match at Burnley to show marked improvement in both performance and results.  If not he’ll be relieved of his duties.

Good luck, Frank!

Manchester United

With the rest of their title rivals facing tricky fixtures or in crisis, United have a chance to possibly extend their lead and solidify their position at the top of the league, early as it may be.  They travel to Stoke after 3 consecutive wins to start the season, the only team in the league to do so.  

Stoke away has proven to be a difficult fixture for United since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement though.  They’ve failed to win at the bet265 Stadium in 4 trips since.  Changing that trend is the type of improvement Mourinho must extract from his team if they are to be taken seriously as contenders for the league after failing to mount a credible challenge in recent years.

Brighton

Brighton are the only promoted side yet to register a point this season.  They’ve looked unable to cope with the skill and physicality of the league at various points.  

On Saturday they host undefeated West Brom.  Tony Pulis’ side is one of the most physical sides in the league and masters of executing on set pieces.  It will be a real challenge for Brighton to cope with, but if they are to keep hope alive of avoiding relegation these are the matches at home they need to hope to get maximum points from.  

Danny Drinkwater

In 2015/16 Danny Drinkwater paired with N’golo Kante in Leicester’s midfield as a key figure in the club’s historic title winning campaign.  Last summer Kante left to join Chelsea and in the final minutes of this summer’s window Drinkwater also made the switch.

On Saturday Drinkwater could make his Chelsea debut alongside Kante at Leicester.  That would be fun and it’ll be interesting to see how he’s received by the home crowd.

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